San Francisco Giants great Buster Posey surprisingly called time on his illustrious MLB career on Thursday.

Posey enjoyed a resurgence in 2021, helping the Giants to a franchise-record 107 wins and their first National League (NL) West title since 2012 before falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series (NLDS).

The three-time World Series champion and seven-time All-Star, who opted out of the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign, was among a number of Giants players to enjoy a rejuvenation this term.

Posey boasted his best SLG (.499) and OPS (.889) since the Giants were crowned world champions in 2012, while the 34-year-old's 18 home runs were his most since his 19-homer campaign six years ago.

However, the future Hall of Famer – the first catcher in MLB history to hit .300 or better in his final year – announced his retirement, citing family and the physical toll of the game.

"I want to do more stuff from February to November with family," Posey – the 2012 NL MVP – said in a news conference. "Physically, it's much harder now. It's hard to enjoy it as much when there is physical pain that you're dealing with.

"It was getting to the point that things that I was enjoying were not as joyful anymore."

"I've been blessed to play in a league that has the most talented baseball players in the world," Posey added. "It's a fraternity that I've watched from afar from the time I was five years old until I arrived in September 2009.

"And one of the greatest benefits that comes along with that is that you get to meet a lot of great teammates that have a lot of similar interests as you do. ... I feel very fortunate to have made some of those friendships over the years. I look forward to them lasting for years to come."

Posey said: "The last week to 10 days I've been thinking, 'How do you thank a fan base?' And the Giants fan base is more than just fans, it's a community. And that sense of community is something we as players could feel in the ballpark when we took the field each night.

"I also hope it's worked the other way -- I hope over the years that you've been able to see that our team has a sense of pride that we've all taken in coming together each night and each day, working hard with a common goal and pushing each other along the way."

The San Francisco Giants want to exercise Buster Posey's $22million club option, with the National League (NL) West champions stressing the star will be a 2022 centrepiece if he wants to be.

Posey starred for the Giants this MLB season, helping the team to a franchise-record 107 wins and their first NL West crown since 2012 before falling to rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series (NLDS).

The three-time World Series champion, who opted out of the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign, was among a number of Giants players to enjoy a rejuvenation this term.

Posey boasted his best SLG (.499) and OPS (.889) since the Giants were crowned world champions in 2012, while the 34-year-old's 18 home runs were his most since his 19-homer campaign six years ago.

As the dust settles on San Francisco's season, the Giants remain committed to the 2012 NL MVP and seven-time All-Star as long as he wants to continue playing.

"He is in our estimation the best catcher in baseball this year," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told reporters on Monday.

"Obviously want to have conversations with Buster and continue to have internal conversations about that, but having him on this team next year is a high priority."

Zaidi added: "You can talk about his value both in how he played down the stretch and how much we missed him when he went down. Really, really important part of this team.

"The qualifying offer decision we'll have to think more about and I'm sure we'll have some conversations with his representation as we did during the year. He's happy here, I think he feels really appreciated. And we appreciate him.

"He's been one of the best hitters in baseball over the last couple of years. He's a big part of this team and we'll certainly hope that those are productive dialogues."

 

The San Francisco Giants shut out the prolific Los Angeles Dodgers led by Logan Webb as they secured a 4-0 win and a 1-0 lead in the National League Division Series on Friday.

The Dodgers, who were shut out just five times in the regular season, could not convert any of their five hits on Friday, while the Giants delivered three home runs.

Seven-time All-Star Buster Posey got the Giants on the board with a two-run blast in the first inning from Walker Buehler, who allowed six hits across six-and-one-third innings.

Buehler still managed five strikeouts on the mound for the Dodgers but he was over-shadowed by Giants right-hander Webb, who tossed down 10 Ks across seven-and-two-thirds scoreless innings.

Kris Bryant, who had three hits to mark an outstanding game, padded the Giants' lead in the seventh inning with a left-field home run from a tiring Buehler.

Brandon Crawford, who had 24 home runs across the regular season added, another in the eighth inning, recording his second career post-season homer to add insurance.

 

Astros launch into 2-0 lead

The Houston Astros produced a five-run rally in the seventh inning to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the American League Division Series (ALDS) against the Chicago White Sox with a 9-4 victory.

But the Astros had to come from behind, trailing 4-2 after Luis Robert, who had two runs, three hits and one RBI for the game, touched down at the top of the fifth inning.

Jose Altuve, who had a great defensive game in the field, and Alex Bregman levelled it from a Yuli Gurriel base hit, before the five-run rally in the seventh underlined by Kyle Tucker's two-run shot.

With two out and two on leading 5-4, Carlos Correa's powerful shot to right-field eluded Leury Garcia, driving in two runs before Tucker padded the advantage.

 

Sale loses his puff

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale endured a nightmare first inning, allowing four hits and five earned runs as the Tampa Bay Rays opened up an early 5-2 lead. Sale was pulled after that before the Red Sox launched an admirable fightback in a run-fest 14-6 victory over the Rays to square up their ALDS. Tanner Houck steadied on the mound, with five strikeouts across five innings allowing only one run and two hits.

 

 

Burnes still on fire

Corbin Burnes continued his excellent regular season form in the Milwaukee Brewers' opening game of their NLDS with six scoreless innings and six strikeouts in a 2-1 win over the Atlanta Braves. Burnes, who finished the regular season with an MLB-best 2.43 ERA, set up the victory before Josh Hader closed it out, with Rowdy Tellez scoring a two-run homer in the seventh inning.

 

Saturday's results

Houston Astros 9-4 Chicago White Sox
Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 Atlanta Braves
Boston Red Sox 14-6 Tampa Bay Rays
San Francisco Giants 4-0 Los Angeles Dodgers

 

Dodgers at Giants

The Dodgers will look to bounce back in Game 2 against the Giants, with Julio Urias and Kevin Gausman starting on the mound for the respective sides.

Up until this point, it has been a season to remember for the San Francisco Giants, who are playoff-bound for the first time since 2016.

A franchise-record 107 wins and the best record in baseball saw the Giants fend off reigning World Series champions and rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers for the National League (NL) West title.

It was San Francisco's first division crown since 2012 as they ended the Dodgers' streak of eight straight NL West trophies.

San Francisco's World Series charge is being spearheaded by their golden oldies – Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and Buster Posey – after a tough couple of years, with Gabe Kapler overseeing dramatic improvement with a stacked roster of experienced veterans.

 

From afterthoughts to contenders

As the Giants prepare for the NL Division Series (NLDS) against the aforementioned Dodgers, it is safe to say they entered the 2021 season as afterthoughts in their own division, despite missing the playoffs by just one win in last year's coronavirus-shortened campaign.

All eyes were on the star-studded Dodgers and a surging San Diego Padres franchise hot off signing Fernando Tatis Jr. to the third-richest contract in MLB history – a 14-year, $340 million deal – after both bolstered their already impressive squads. The Dodgers brought in reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer and eventually future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols plus ace Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. The Padres acquired frontline starters Yu Darvish and Blake Snell in blockbuster trades.

Without a postseason berth since losing to the Chicago Cubs in the 2016 NLDS, the Giants needed an historic campaign to dethrone the Dodgers in the NL West and hold off an exciting Padres squad.

Despite boasting the oldest roster in the majors with an average age of 30 years and 313 days, they achieved just that and became the first NL team to win more than 106 games since the 1986 New York Mets.

 

 

Rejuvenated veterans thriving under Kapler

Eyebrows were raised when the Giants and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi hired Kapler to succeed beloved San Francisco figure and future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy in 2019. Kapler's two-year stint with the Philadelphia Phillies left a lot to be desired. But his shortcomings have long been forgotten as the Giants and their roster reap the rewards of Zaidi's decision.

"They're a teaching staff," reliever Tony Watson said of Kapler's coaching staff, which included MLB's first full-time female assistant Alyssa Nakken. "You could see the improvement of guys throughout the roster, one through 26. It wasn't just the young guys that were coming up and still developing, you saw Buster, [Crawford], [Longoria] and Belt changing their swings and changing the way they go about their days. That's a tribute to all 14-15 staff members and being able to relay information and ideas."

Belt (33), Crawford (34) and Posey (34) were all part of San Francisco's World Series-winning team in 2014, and, despite their advancing years, have all improved under Kapler's management.

Belt enjoyed the best 162-game campaign of his career thanks to his .597 SLG, .975 OPS and 29 homers (surpassing the 18 he hit in 2015 and 2018). It was the same for Crawford (.522/.895 and a career-best 24 home runs).

Belt, Crawford and Darin Ruf (.519/.904) have all enjoyed career years in both SLG and OPS. When factoring at least 100 plate appearances and a team playing in 155 or more games, the 2021 Giants are the first franchise since the Cardinals in 2004 to have three-plus players with career years in both SLG and OPS.

Posey – who is looking to become the first NL player since Sandy Koufax and Johnny Podres to win four World Series rings with the same team – boasted his best SLG (.499) and OPS (.889) since the Giants were crowned world champions in 2012. His 18 homers were his most since his 19-homer campaign six years ago.

Fellow veteran Evan Longoria also enjoyed a return to form, with the 35-year-old’s SLG (.482) and OPS (.833) numbers his best since his penultimate season with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016.

It is a similar theme with San Francisco's pitchers – starters Kevin Gausman (2.81), Anthony DeSclafani (3.17) and Logan Webb (3.03) finishing the regular season with career-high ERAs.

Gausman (227) heads into the postseason with a career-best 227 strikeouts, while DeSclafani (152) only managed more strikeouts in 2019 when he struck out 167 batters during his time with the Cincinnati Reds. Gausman finished the year behind only Corbin Burnes in Stats Perform's Strike+ metric, which measures which pitchers rack up both whiffs and called strikes.

 

Depth shines in the Bay Area

The Giants achieved a first in their 137-year existence, hitting 241 home runs in a season for the first time. They achieved the feat without a single 30-homer hitter on their roster – the highest number of homers without a player reaching at least 30 home runs in MLB history.

It was a collective effort. Case in point: The Giants had 17 players with at least five homers this season – an MLB record. Belt (29), Mike Yastrzemski (25), Crawford (24), Wilmer Flores (18), Posey (18), LaMonte Wade Jr. (18), Ruf (16), Alex Dickerson (13), Longoria (13) and Austin Slater (12) all reached double digits.

Rather than rely on stars like Posey, Belt and Crawford, the Giants – who hit 103 game-winning RBIs, the second highest in the majors since 1974, ended the season with six players aged 30 or older among the team's top four in home runs – the highest figure since 2014, ahead of the 2018 Giants (five).

"It's just been such a collective effort. Contributions up and down," Posey said. "We set the [franchise] record for homers [in a season] and pinch-hit homers. Those are some examples. You've got most the home runs ever for the team and nobody has 30."

 

Of San Francisco's home runs, 18 came in pinch-hit situations – a single-season MLB record, eclipsing the 2016 Cardinals.

This season's Giants are unlikely to produce an MVP or Cy Young Award winner, but their championship run is fuelled by a selfless approach.

San Francisco's quartet of Gausman, Logan Webb, Alex Wood and DeSclafani further solidified the team-first mentality – helping the Giants rank second in the majors with a 3.24 ERA in 2021. Run suppression was aided by the Giants suppressing the longball, as the team finished with an average of 0.93 homers allowed per game this season, the best in the majors.

While their NLDS opponents may have more star power, the Giants counter with one of the deepest and most talented squads in franchise history. Their opening playoff series should be an instant classic, and the Giants have proved they'll be a tough out for any team they face.

The San Francisco Giants reclaimed the National League (NL) West lead with a dramatic 3-2 walk-off victory over rivals and World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Sole possession of top spot was on the line as the Giants and Dodgers clashed in a heavyweight MLB showdown in San Francisco on Friday.

The score was deadlocked at 2-2 until a bizarre walk-off throwing error lifted the Giants past the Dodgers in the 11th inning.

With the bases loaded in the 11th and two outs, Buster Posey appeared to have hit an inning-ending groundout, but Trea Turner's throw went wide of Will Smith, whose toe came off the bag.

Posey was initially ruled safe, and it stayed that way despite a lengthy Dodgers (85-50) review – the Giants (86-49) moving back to the top of the NL West again.

 

Comeback of the year?

The Toronto Blue Jays emerged from the jaws of defeat in stunning fashion, somehow conquering the Oakland Athletics 11-10. Toronto – chasing the last Wild Card spot – trailed 8-2 entering the eighth inning at home to fellow playoff hopefuls the A's. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a game-tying grand slam after a two-out rally. Mark Canha's two-run homer restored Oakland's advantage in the top of the ninth, but Marcus Semien delivered an incredible walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the inning. Gurriel became just the third Blue Jays player ever to hit three grand s lams in a season after Edwin Encarnacion (2015) and Darrin Fletcher (2000).

The Detroit Tigers lit up the Cincinnati Reds 15-5 behind Dustin Garneau's two-run homer and solo shot, plus Robbie Grossman's three-run blast.

Kyle Schwarber hit a lead-off homer in the opening inning to fuel the Boston Red Sox's 8-5 victory at home to the Cleveland Indians. Hunter Renfroe added a three-run homer for the Red Sox, who have won three straight games.

 

Keuchel's woes continue

Dallas Keuchel struggled again as the Chicago White Sox went down 7-2 to the Kansas City Royals. Keuchel allowed six runs in three innings – the 2015 American League (AL) Cy Young winner has a 7.26 ERA through his past 11 starts. He gave up five earned runs, seven hits and two walks with just one strikeout against the Royals.

 

Arenado homers twice as Wainwright and Molina celebrate milestone

St Louis Cardinals star Nolan Arenado recorded his 21st multi-homer game since entering the majors in 2013 – tied for the second most alongside Bryce Harper in the NL in that span, behind Giancarlo Stanton (22). The Cardinals crushed the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers 15-4. Cardinals team-mates Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina started together for the 300th time – the fourth most prolific battery in history.

 

Friday's results 

Chicago Cubs 6-5 Pittsburgh Pirates
New York Yankees 4-3 Baltimore Orioles
New York Mets 6-2 Washington Nationals
Toronto Blue Jays 11-10 Oakland Athletics
Boston Red Sox 8-5 Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers 15-5 Cincinnati Reds
Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 Minnesota Twins
Miami Marlins 10-3 Philadelphia Phillies
Kansas City Royals 7-2 Chicago White Sox
St Louis Cardinals 15-4 Milwaukee Brewers
Colorado Rockies 4-3 Atlanta Braves
Los Angeles Angels 3-2 Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners 6-5 Arizona Diamondbacks
Houston Astros 6-3 San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants 3-2 Los Angeles Dodgers

 

A's at Blue Jays

With both teams vying for a Wild Card berth, the Blue Jays (71-62) and Athletics (74-61) will continue their series on Saturday. Jose Berrios will start for the Blue Jays as the A's counter with Paul Blackburn.

Toronto Blue Jays sensation Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani and Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres headline the starters for the 2021 MLB All-Star Game.

The starters for the upcoming All-Star Game, scheduled for July 13 at Coors Field – home of the Colorado Rockies, were revealed after two rounds of fan voting on Thursday.

Guerrero (aged 22 years and 119 days) will be the youngest Blue Jays player to start an All-Star Game, while he is also the youngest player to start at first base since George Scott in 1966.

Son of an MLB Hall of Famer, Guerrero is only second to Ohtani (28) for home runs this season with 26, while he leads the majors in RBI (66), on-base percentage (.442), OPS (1.117) and three-plus hit games (11 – level with Trea Turner).

Ohtani, 26, is set to become the first Japanese-born player to start an All-Star Game since Ichiro Suzuki in 2010.

The Angels' Ohtani has the most homers this season, while he owns a 3.60 ERA and 83 strikeouts across 60 innings on the mound.

As for Tatis, the 22-year-old shortstop will be the youngest player to start for the Padres in an All-Star Game.

Tatis entered Thursday's action leading MLB with an incredible .705 slugging percentage, while leading the National League (NL) in homers.

Elsewhere, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers will become the first shortstop/third base combo in Boston Red Sox history to start the All-Star Game.

Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. will join Eddie Matthews as the player in franchise history to start multiple All-Star Games before turning 24, while Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker will give the Cincinnati Reds multiple outfield starters for the first time since 1956.

 

All-Star Game starters:

American League

C: Salvador Perez (Kansas City Royals)
2B: Marcus Semien (Toronto Blue Jays)
3B: Rafael Devers (Boston Red Sox)
SS: Xander Bogaerts (Boston Red Sox)
OF: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels) 
OF: Aaron Judge (New York Yankees)
OF: Teoscar Hernandez (Toronto Blue Jays) 

National League

C: Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants)
1B: Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves)
2B: Adam Frazier (Pittsburgh Pirates)
3B: Nolan Arenado (St Louis Cardinals)
OF: Ronald Acuna Jr. (Atlanta Braves)
OF: Nick Castellanos (Cincinnati Reds)
OF: Jesse Winker (Cincinnati Reds)

Shohei Ohtani made more MLB history as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Texas Rangers 9-4.

Angels two-way star Ohtani became the first player in almost 100 years to start a game on the mound while also entering the day leading the majors in home runs.

New York Yankees great and Hall of Famer Babe Ruth was the last to do so in 1921.

Ohtani, who picked up his first win since May 2018, went two-for-three with two RBIs and three runs scored against the Rangers, striking out nine over five innings on Monday.

He became the first American League (AL) player to reach those numbers in a game since Luis Tiant in 1967, according to Stats Perform.

"A pretty complete game of baseball," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "If you weren't entertained by watching him tonight, you can't be entertained watching the game of baseball."

Angels star Mike Trout also made his return from an elbow injury, going four-for-five at the plate.

 

Posey and Giants show no mercy

Buster Posey had a two-run homer among his four hits as the San Francisco Giants crushed the Colorado Rockies 12-0. Posey also caught Anthony DeSclafani's three-hit shutout. It is the eighth time Posey has caught a shutout while having more hits himself than the entire opposing team – the most such games by any catcher in the modern era, per Stats Perform.

The Philadelphia Phillies edged the St Louis Cardinals 2-1. Zach Wheeler became the first Phillies pitcher to go eight-plus innings pitched with one hit or fewer since Cole Hamels in 2015. Wheeler gave up one hit and one run while striking out nine.

 

Yankees continue to struggle

The Yankees are not getting hits at the moment. The storied franchise managed just four in a 4-2 loss to AL East rivals the Baltimore Orioles. Between All-Star sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, the pair only managed two hits. The Yankees are bottom of the AL East. Baltimore have finished above the Yankees just three times in the AL East since MLB went to six divisions in 1994, doing so in 1997, 2014 and 2016.

World series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers have now suffered back-to-back defeats, upstaged 5-3 by the Cincinnati Reds after 10 innings.

 

Bryant slam!

Kris Bryant hit the sixth grand slam of his career – a shot off Charlie Morton in the third inning which tied the game. The Chicago Cubs still lost 8-7 to the Atlanta Braves.

 

Monday's results

Cincinnati Reds 5-3 Los Angeles Dodgers
Kansas City Royals 3-2 Detroit Tigers
Cleveland Indians 5-3 Minnesota Twins
Atlanta Braves 8-7 Chicago Cubs
Baltimore Orioles 4-2 New York Yankees
Oakland Athletics 2-1 Tampa Bay Rays
Miami Marlins 8-0 Milwaukee Brewers
Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 St Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Angels 9-4 Texas Rangers
Houston Astros 5-2 Seattle Mariners
San Francisco Giants 12-0 Colorado Rockies

 

Tigers at White Sox

The Chicago White Sox (12-9) – riding a four-game winning streak – will host the Detroit Tigers (7-16) in Tuesday's series opener at Guaranteed Rate Field. Lucas Giolito is set to start for the White Sox as the Tigers counter with Jose Urena.

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